A last I had entered the real Egypt, the old and fascinating Egypt, the country where Nile, temple, field, village and sky combined to create a vivid and seductive impression of the land where Pharaohs ruled in pomp, and flagstones daily echoed to the chants of many priests. Here, at Luxor, 450 miles down the river from Cairo, one slipped back and fitted into the Past without effort and looked out upon a landscape which presented many of the ancient scenes. It is the South, or Upper Egypt as the geographers have immemorially called it, that has kept more of those scenes for modern observers.
Its classically famous capital, Thebes, Homer's "Hundred-gated city," has vanished, but it has left us Karnak; once the headquarters of the Egyptian priesthood.
To-day, Karnak is the pearl of this region. The fame of its widespread mass of now ruined but still stately temples has spread all over the world. It contains the largest temple still to be seen in Egypt, the Great Hall of Amen-Ra, to which, in olden days, all other temples in Egypt were tributary. So I made Karnak my place of pilgrimage for days on end, moving amid its mouldering ruins and broken pillars both by the bright light of the sun and by the dimmer light of the moon.
Karnak, which stands out of a forest of green palms to the north, lies two or three miles down the river from Luxor and a little more inland. One approached it along a dusty road, across a wide plain and under a sky of palest blue, past a Sheikh's white cupola'd tomb and a grove of tamarisk trees, until a huge sandstone pylon towered suddenly into view. Crested hoopoes were everywhere in the fields, busily picking up sustenance from the stubbled ground. On the way one noticed, here and there and peeping out of the soil, odd, headless, half-shattered or overturned members of a double row of small, ram-headed